Puccini: Preludio sinfonico; Capriccio sinfonico; Le Villi (excerpts); Edgar (excerpts); Manon Lescaut (excerpts)

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COMPOSERS: Puccini
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Preludio sinfonico; Capriccio sinfonico; Le Villi (excerpts); Edgar (excerpts); Manon Lescaut (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Berlin RSO/Riccardo Chailly
CATALOGUE NO: 444 154-2 DDD (1983)
Puccini’s reputation rests on a mighty handful of operas whose popularity shows no sign of diminishing. It would be tempting to suppose that because of this a wealth of scintillating orchestral music has been unjustly ignored. Not so – the music so fervently performed here is lyrical and charming, but ultimately weak-willed. The very beginning of La bohème crops up in the middle of E the Capriccio sinfonico, but the energy soon peters out. It shows just how much Puccini needed the external impetus of a libretto to create drama and excitement in his music. For all that, these soft-centred sweeties make enjoyably soothing listening. Christopher Lambton

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